Thursday, 14 April 2011

Shite fite in OZ Episode 1

                   Oh you will like this one I promise you :-)

  Steven Solomon is a living legend of Australian Chess. Playing through his games is a pleasure few of Australia's top players forgo especially when wanting to see some exceptionally creative chess. His opponent in this game is Brian Jones, chess entrepreneur, organizer of the Sydney International and President of our Zone. He also loves to play chess as does his whole family to the best of my knowledge.  Is it possible that this game, the crowning glory of his chess career, his immortal /evergreen will not count? Well not if the evil Greg Canfell, the ratings officer has his way. Story after this very entertaining game.

So, a quick summary as I understand it.

 1.The Arbiter allows mobile phones to be used to record moves and generally allows the use of electronic devices. He trusts everybody not to cheat.

2. Brian Jones beats Steven Solomon and looks forward to the well deserved rating points.

3. Greg Canfell notices that allowing mobiles could run afoul of a FIDE rule or two and sees his chance to deprive Brian Jones of his points. He asks the ACF for "advice".

"As this tournament has featured the widespread use of electronic devices, I am withholding rating Ballarat Begonia on the FIDE list, until otherwise advised by the ACF Executive."

Greg Canfell
FIDE Rating Officer
Australian Chess Federation

4 .Brian responds: "What! I beat Solo for the first time ever and now you don't want to rate it.
Get a life Shirty. " on Chesschat

Peter Parr has now weighed in with an official open letter to FIDE

FIDE Rated Tournament  Begonia Open    Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (129 players, 7 rounds), (Saturday 12 March 2011 - Monday 14 March 2011).

Arbiter G.Bekker (IA), Oceania Zone President FM B.Jones (IO) was a competitor. This event is one of Australia’s most prestigious FIDE rated weekenders and is in the ACF Grand Prix Series of tournaments (supervised by  B.Jones IO) and very generously sponsored by Dato Tan(Malaysia).

FIDE 12.3.B  Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off.

It was established in Ballarat that there was no conflict with FIDE regulations as the arbiter granted permission for all  129 players in each and every round . All the players   were  encouraged to use their mobile phones to access the internet throughout every game to record their moves on the “Tornelo” electronic score sheets.

I sent a message to Brian Jones as follows :-  I cannot understand how a FIDE Zone President can play in a FIDE rated event with all players permitted to use electronic devices/mobile phones throughout the entire FIDE tournament.

The FIDE Zone President Brian Jones (IO) advised he was a chess player in the event but was not present in any official capacity and did not personally use an electronic device or phone although he did see the IA using a device but he was generally too busy playing chess.

The FIDE Ratings Officer for Australia was very concerned that mobile phones had been permitted for all players throughout the FIDE rated event and advised the Australian Chess Federation that the event would only be FIDE rated if the Australian Chess Federation instructed him to rate it.  FIDE Zone President FM Brian Jones (IO) wrote that he had beaten Solomon for the first time ever and now you don’t want to rate it. Get a Life.   The FIDE Ratings Officer had of course acted correctly. He was well aware that FIDE bans the use of mobile phones and sought instructions.  The ACF has  now instructed him to FIDE rate the event.

I have no reason to believe that cheating took place in the event and no-one has suggested that it had. The problem is of course that with 129 players permitted to use mobile phones in all 7 games there is no way of knowing.

An Australian Chess Federation Vice-President recently said that the issue of the use of mobile phones to enter moves during games was under review and don’t be surprised if this is banned. He also stated that there was no literal breach   of the FIDE laws as the rules say that phones must be turned off unless the arbiter permits them to be on. The arbiter permitted them to be on.  An organiser in Ballarat said he trusted players not to cheat.

Note : - I was not present in Ballarat. I run a chess business in the Sydney CBD since 1973.   Brian Jones runs a chess business in the far Western Suburbs of Sydney.

Personally I am deeply shocked and  saddened by the above events. FIDE has worked hard and diligently to ensure the banning of mobile phones in games and enforcing loss of game for any mobile phone noise.
The Zone President a player in the event  and regular tournament player for half a century  is the highest ranked FIDE Official in the Oceania Zone responsible for FIDE’s high standards.  The FIDE Ethics  Case N. 3/09 is sadly noted.

All tournaments in Australia ranging from club events, inter-club,state and national,all other weekenders have to the best of my knowledge all abided by FIDE regulations – no mobile phones during play. The FIDE Laws of chess are not negotiable by club,state or country. The FIDE Laws of chess apply to all events in all countries. Numerous players have asked me about unlimited  mobile phone use in Ballarat. I cannot understand how  many experienced players  and  some FIDE officials  including the Zone President allowed all players to use mobile phones.

It is absolutely impossible and so absurd to claim that  FIDE permits use of mobile phones for all 129 players in every game because “the arbiter gives permission”.

I would greatly appreciate an official  ruling from FIDE.     “Without the permission of the arbiter” – Question – In Ballarat the arbiter gave permission for everyone to use mobile phones – is this permitted by FIDE ?   

I bring this matter to your attention as an IA,Captain,President and journalist to ensure this never ever happens again in Australia or any other country _ Gens Una Sumus.

                                                                - - -

This is most definitely not the last we have heard of this matter. Hopefully people will also take note that the tournament was convincingly won by James Morris  with 6.5/7. He is currently performing well in Thailand. 

So what will FIDE rule? Will Brian get his FIDE rating points? WTF is Tornelo and does anybody care? All these questions and more answered, and new ones posed on the next episode of...

                                                               Shite fite in oz


  1. Yikes stripes ! I course I don't understand all the issues,but it never ceases to amaze how any group of people no matter how seemingly intelligent or accomplished can get caught up in he said,she said and he did,she did although the women seem luckily out of this one !!
    Can't wait for PART II, phones apparently rule the world !!
    thanks for the great report Alex.

  2. tournelo amongst other things can use mobiles as devices to record and relay games. A cheaper version of the Monroi gadget basically and an alternative to DGT boards for live coverage.

    It will do other activities, pairings, rankings and rating calculations for instance.

  3. As well as the ACF Executive advising Greg to FIDE-rate the event (since there was apparently no literal breach of FIDE laws and innocent players entering in good faith should not be penalised for unorthodox organiser decisions), the ACF Council has now closed the loophole by banning the use of all electronic scoresheets except the FIDE-approved Monroi system, from all ACF or FIDE-rated events.

    I am not aware of the slightest shred of evidence that Greg specifically intended to deprive any particular player of ratings points and I suggest that accusation be either substantiated or withdrawn. He was doing his job by seeking clarification on whether or not to rate an event played under unusual circumstances.

  4. Thanks for the clarification Kevin. As for the "accusation", I would have thought that most sentient life-forms would have detected a note of irony in "the evil Greg Canfell" but it seems I was wrong so I officially announce that I was joking.

  5. Alex, to be fair to Kevin your post was sufficently ambiguous that it wasn't clear you were joking, especially when you look at your point 3 in isolation and the misleading inverted commas around the word advice.

    (Plus there's the little matter of the rants against the ACF a few weeks ago - it's natural that any ACF officer would be on the defensive about anything written in this blog conerning the ACF.)

    As for me, since I know you personally, I was able to get a good laugh out of being described as the "evil Greg Canfell".

  6. Greg, "misleading inverted commas" implies that thought goes into my blogging, I can assure you that it does not.
    Kevin, I just noticed that my last comment to you could be misinterpreted. No offense intended.
    I am still curious what position FIDE will take. Any odds on it being rated or not?

  7. Thanks for the clarification Alex.

    As for whether FIDE do rate it, I assume they will and would be very disappointed if they didn't. But hopefully some good will come out of it in the form of an answer to Peter's query about FIDE's view on this sort of practice.

  8. The rating calculations are now up: so it remains to be seen what, if anything, FIDE does before the list becomes official on May 1. I would hope they would let it through, especially since the ACF moved so quickly to close the loophole.